Chipotle and Qdoba both have somewhat of a cult following in many parts of the country. Perhaps the fandom is fueled by their effort to serve quality food at an affordable price. Or maybe it’s the simplistic, modern design of the restaurants. Or if you’re money conscious, you might appreciate the fact that their business model eliminates all forms of obligatory tipping.
In case you don’t know, both Qdoba and Chipotle operate as follows: You stand in line and shout across a small counter at the person making your order. You tell them what exactly you want and they slap it together in record time. You then pay at the counter and go stuff your face.
When it’s time to construct your meal, there are two important things to be aware of.
1) While you are able to verbally design the meal, the employee always has at least partial control over portion size. Anyone who has eaten at either restaurant knows this. Sometimes you get a stingy employee who makes it their mission to give you as little food as possible, while other times you’ll be greeted with double portions of everything.
2) Because you are in control of the ingredients and design of your order, you also have the ability to influence the portion size. Even though you can’t control the employee, you can construct a behemoth of an entree using the tips in this article. Just be prepared to SPEAK UP and express your needs.
Let’s get started.
Make a New Friend
In light of my comments above, this is the logical place to begin. When you finally make it to the front of the line, smile and ask the employee on duty how their day is going. Ask if they’re always this busy, and then express how tired you would be if you were in their position.
Then proceed to…
Avoid the Burrito
The burrito is what made Chipotle famous, and that is what most people choose to order. Don’t be most people. The bowl is a larger storage container for all those delish upcoming ingredients. If you’re really desperate to get those tasty grains, you can ask for a flour tortilla or several corn tortillas on the side. For Free.
At Qdoba, opt for the “nachos – with the chips on the side”. You’ll receive a regular sized burrito bowl to fill with whatever you want, plus a big bag of lime tortilla chips on the side for free.
Once you’ve decided the storage medium, choose your desired type of rice (white or brown). If you want more, or both, just ask for it.
Next, the beans. You’ll be offered a choice of black or pinto beans. If you want both at the same time, there are two ways to handle the process.
- You can outright say, “can I get both black and pinto please.” If you do that, many employees feel inclined to give smaller scoops of each. Of course, if you aren’t happy with your portion, keep asking for more.
- You can indicate a preference for one, wait for delivery onto your entree, then proceed to request the next. For example, when first asked you would say, “black beans, please.” Wait for it, then bam, “Actually, can I get pinto beans on that as well.” This method ensures a double portion of beans.
Get the Veggies
You may or may not have noticed the bowl of vegetables sitting next to the rice and beans. I’m referring to the grilled fajita vegetable medley, which is free with every entree.
If they are stingy with the vegetables, simply speak up and say, “Can I please have a bit more vegetables?” And so it will be.
1/2 + 1/2 = 3/2?
Now we’re getting into the big leagues. It’s possible to order 1/2 meat + 1/2 meat at Chipotle. An example would be to request “half chicken and half steak.” Do this, and you’ll simply pay for a single portion of the more expensive meat. However, things are never so black and white. There are no “1/2” scoops at Chipotle, there are only scoops. Most of the time, requesting 1/2 of each meat will result in close to a full portion of each.
Be sure to make your request clear to avoid confusion and unnecessary charges. You can’t pull a fast one on them here like you did with the beans.
Down The Stretch
After the meat, you must decide on the extras.
With salsas, you should use a similar method to the beans. If you simply rattle off, “Can I get medium, hot, and pico?” you’re sure to end up with a half ladle of each. Instead, ask for one full scoop at a time. Pause and allow the scoop, then proceed to the next salsa of your choosing. You’ll thank me when your next bowl is exploding with flavor.
Next, opt for cheese, sour cream, lettuce, or guac. They’re often stingy with these products, so be ready to speak up and ask for more of each. Qdoba includes free queso and guacamole with each entree, while Chipotle charges extra for both.
Celebrate and Eat
After the line, it’s time to enjoy the spoils of your hard work. But first, just look at it. Observe the sheer magnitude of your entree. Right then and there, before you devour it, commit it to memory so you can replicate this whole exercise in the future.
If you’re a Chipotle regular, you might consider buying gift cards. They frequently run a promotion where you buy $25 or more in gift cards and receive a free entree. That’s a pretty good return on investment. You can also choose to place orders online to avoid the lines altogether. However, doing so ensures a puny burrito (or bowl) that you’ll be ashamed to eat.